Review – Sleeperman – Cheddar Baguette – by Progradar

Those perfect proponents of incisive social comment coated with a liberal dose of whimsical nostalgia, Sleeperman, return with September’s single (okay, I know, check the date but life gets in the way you know!), the imaginatively titled Cheddar Baguette.

Damn, these guys are good, this gentle meandering track really does get hold of you heart with its sepia tinged memories. Neil’s elegant guitar has just the right touch of thoughtful longing and the harmonised chorus is a delight.

“You had on your green canvas jeans and you were eating a cheddar baguette, I was wearing suede boots and a beret, they’re are things we’d all rather forget, but straight from the off we had things in common, you’re Dad drove a Ford Escort and so did mine…”

There’s only Sleeperman that can turn such simple lyrics into something so moving. This song is a sentimental daydream down memory lane and, for those of us of a certain age, a love song that will surely touch an emotional chord.

“I fell for you, I’ve fallen for for, I’ll fall for you as long as I breathe air…”

Utterly wonderful and, for me, the best single yet!

This time, the ‘B’ side is an, erm, alternative version…

Available from all the usual digital suspects and retro CD from the band contactable at their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/sleepermanband/

 

Review – Kalin Tonev – Machine Years – by Progradar

I love a powerful instrumental album but they have to work harder than your normal release due to there being no words to elucidate the songwriter’s thoughts and ideas.

The best ones are chock full of brilliant instrumental phases and phrases and tend to not let each track follow the same musical path.

Hailing from Sofia, Bulgaria, Kalin Tonev was previously known as the heart and the leader/composer/keyboardist of the prog rock project TravelHouse. Tonev released just a single album (‘Mind Mapping’– 2008) under this moniker, but it gained some favorable reviews in the main prog rock sites. Kalin began working on his debut solo effort, ‘Machine Years’, spanning the whole gamut of prog signatures.

Spread over thirteen tracks and covering sixty-five minutes, ‘Machine Years’ is a thoroughly involving musical experience. Massively injected with the classic 70’s lines, modern electronic scapes with occasional dark and heavy riffs, it is a theatrical journey awash with catchy melodies and intelligent moments intertwined with a more industrial, dystopian edge in places.

Kalin’s signature synth sound is dynamic and edgy with a real feel to it and he is joined on this impressively involving soundscape by three talented guitarists, Nenko Milev, Daniel Eliseev and Biser Ivanov. Their frenetic, energetic and compelling playing adds force and vigour to an already compelling mix.

There are moments of wonderful clarity when Kalin’s vintage keyboards soar to the heavens and these are countered by the somber, skittish feel when the music takes a more chaotic route. It’s a record full of memorable tunes but the highlights for me are Short Story About TanksBeingsMad DancerNews From Nowhere and the hypnotic This Empty Space.

Complex industrial, instrumental progressive rock with a lush and thoughful side, ‘Machine Years’ is an impressive debut and should see this talented musician really forge a name for himself.

Released 27th January 2017

Order the album from bandcamp here

 

 

Review – Jet Black Sea – The Overview Effect – by James R Turner

As I am sure you can imagine here at Turner House of Prog in North Somerset, and indeed at Progradar Towers up in Yorkshire, we get a multitude of albums that cross our desks and into our ears. Some from established artists who we know and love, others from bands that I’ve not heard of (Martin seems to know every band in existence!) and I generally get some nudged in my direction as Martin reckons I will like them.

Until getting this three track album in my inbox I was woefully unaware of who Jet Black Sea are and am happy to be able to rectify that here.

The talented chaps behind this atmospheric album are Michel Simons and Adrian Jones (from Nine Stones Close) and this is their third release following 2013’s debut ‘The Path of Least Existence’ and 2017’s ‘Absorption Lines’.

There are only three tracks on this album, although the albums centrepiece, the majestic title track clocks in at an impressive 35 minutes. Framed by two beautifully haunting songs, first up, the sublime opening Escape Velocity which mixes ambient soundscapes and yearning cellos and strings, building slowly with a sublime laid back sound and some soulful guitar, this hits the spot from the opening chords.

With a wonderful slow build and blend of organic and electronic, it really kicks in after two minutes with a driving pulsating riff that sees the guitar and drums duelling before the excellent vocals, courtesy of Jones’ Nine Stones Close bandmate Adrian O’Shaughnessy, begin.

Bold, epic and showing an artist not afraid to push their musical boundaries, this album’s title track The Overview Effect, ebbs and flows, builds and climbs, crossing multiple genres and sounds, from ambient soundscapes to works that would nestle in any record collection alongside No-Man or even Mike Oldfield. I am reminded of Mike’s early 90’s ambient electronica albums, like ‘Songs of Distant Earth’, in approach if not sound.

The two musicians here, Simons and Jones, are immensely talented individuals and they bounce ideas off each other to create a vast, beautiful and all encompassing sound, one that is the musical equivalent of a big hug, and this is the sort of music that the album format was invented for. Big, and yet surprisingly intimate, not afraid to push big ideas in a beautiful way. The track builds and builds, with some sublime vocals from O’Shaughnessy, whilst the musicians weave intricate musical webs that pull you in and keep you hooked.

After the almighty brilliance of the title track, the album ends on Home (E.D.L) which is probably one of the most beautiful things I have heard on record this year. The piano, the vocals, and guest performer Christian Bruin on drums, all come together to create something sublime, a genuine piece of heart wrenching beauty with a solo so spine tingling that it out-Gilmour’s David Gilmour with its soulful beauty, man you could just weep at the sheer emotional beauty of it all. You know when a song just gets it so right it transcends perfection? This is it, this is what beauty sounds like.

As my colleague over at Bad Elephant, David Elliott, says, ‘This is proper’ and he is not wrong, this is one of those albums that hits you out of leftfield, comes into your life with nary a fanfare and subtly reminds you with great big bursts of sonic prowess why you love doing this job. It’s an album that never outstays it’s welcome and is everything that a great album should be.

Thank you, Martin, for introducing me to Jet Black Sea, and thank you Adrian and Michel, this album is a pleasure to listen to, and a treasure to keep…. now where’s your Bandcamp page again, and where did I put my bank card…. if anyone needs me I’ll be absorbing the Jet Black Sea back catalogue!

Released 20th September 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

 

AMS Records Announce Release of ALL TRAPS ON EARTH’s debut record “A Drop of Light”.

AMS Records is proud and excited to announce the forthcoming release of ALL TRAPS ON EARTH’s debut record “A Drop of Light”.

All Traps on Earth is a Swedish quartet led by Änglagård‘s Johan Brand, including two other members of the same band, Thomas Johnson and Erik Hammarström, and Johan’s daughter Miranda.

“A drop of light” is far beyond amazing: take Anglagard’s music, add an impressive wind section and soundscapes provided by five guest musicians, push everything to a high level of epicness and complexity, and you’ll have a slight idea of what All Traps on Earth is about!

This record will surely set new standards for the actual progressive rock scene, and is one of the best things we had the pleasure to release, ever. It will be available as a limited box-set, CD, double 180gr. LP, MC and on all digital platforms later this year.

For fans of: Anglagard, Goblin, Magma and the Canterbury prog scene of the ’70s.

JO QUAIL SHARES NEW TRACK ‘MANDREL CANTUS’

Internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail, who is currently on tour across Europe with Mono and A Storm of Light has shared a new track from her upcoming album ‘Exsolve’. Recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), the album will be released on 2nd November. Listen to the radio edit of new track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:

Mandrel Cantus Video Edit

Commenting on the track Jo adds, ‘Mandrel Cantus is a track that’s been evolving over a long period of time, and continues to morph each time I perform it live. I started with abstract percussion, in fact I I built a whole new armoury of sounds for this track, and these themselves helped inform the direction of the music as I continue/ed to work on it.  

It’s impossible to talk about your own music without sounding pretentious… I wanted to make a pathway through the percussive labyrinth that resolves and opens powerfully in a physical sense, but dissolves to leave just the spiritual essence of the whole music with the modal C cantus at the end. I’m doing things I’ve never done before in terms of how my loop station is set up, and the sound modelling too, and as such I’m really excited every time I play this track, though it’s a potential minefield to navigate!’

Since commencing her solo career in 2010, Jo has released three albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Following her 2015 European tour with post-rock giants Caspian Jo has embedded herself in the world of left-field and heavy music, whilst continuing to perform within the contemporary and avant-garde spheres. Not only did she open for black-metal artist Myrkur but Jo joined her on stage as part of her Folkesange project as well as collaborating with the likes of A-Sun Amissa, Mono’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit  (Einsturzende Neubauten). Jo has performed several concerts of her works arranged for electric cello, orchestral ensembles and choirs both at home in the UK, in Europe and in Australia where she tours on a yearly basis.

Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

“Exsolve’ is comprised of 3 tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is an almost symphonic quality to the album.

‘Exsolve’ is a snapshot in time of these 3 pieces and with every live performance Jo looks to develop them further. As Jo concludes, ‘For me, the final record is usually only the starting point of the journey and over time and with each performance the music will morph and be reshaped – composing and performing is a collaborative process between me, the space and the audience’.

Tracklisting:
1) Forge – Of Two Forms
2) Mandrel Cantus
3) Causleen’s Wheel
Pre-order the album now – https://joquail.bandcamp.com
A vinyl version of the album with an additional track will follow early next year.
Jo Quail is currently on tour with Mono and A Storm of Light to support the release followed by another tour with Myrkur in December.
European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light
10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof
11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff
12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO
13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival
14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex
15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa
16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe
17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor
18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus
19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void
20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club
22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal
23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil
European tour w/ Myrkur
03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee
05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik
07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall
08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset
10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla
11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat
13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert
14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena
16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ
18 Dec UK London, The Dome
19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece
20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern
22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla

Review – The Tangent – Proxy – by Progradar

2018 has been a rather excellent year for new music. It seems like no sooner has one great album come along then another arrives into the inbox at Progradar Towers. Music of all sorts of genres and description but the overriding feeling I have got this year is that there is joy back in music. The majority of new releases I’m hearing have enforced my faith in the restorative abilities of music and the fact that music can simply put a smile on your face and make the world a happier place to be in.

The latest album to get me buzzing and happy to get out of bed on a wet and miserable October morning is the new release, and 10th studio release, from progressive rock stalwarts The Tangent:

“Entitled “Proxy” it’s a single CD and Vinyl – a riot of juxtopposing styles, presented in a really direct manner and despite being firmly rooted in the stylistic traits of the Progressive Rock Genre takes some unexpected turnoffs and a major swerve.

Recorded during the band’s tour with Karmakanic in 2017/18 – there were more chances than normal to work together on the record – hotel writing sessions, van discussions, soundcheck ideas – all of which have allowed the band to make an album that is organic and as close to being that band, as has happened to the group of far flung members since they began their career 15 years ago.”

Thank you press release, main man Andy Tillison goes on to say, “I often think of good progressive albums as being like the Bayeux Tapestry, an account of the times the band lives in, using all the history that got us to that point, commenting on the Now with the experience of the past.”

Andy agreed with me that ‘Proxy’ is a lighter album than ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, the band’s previous studio release but it does start with the obligatory protest song, title track Proxy. A track about the continuing wars that share their name with the song. The Tangent have always brought politics into progressive rock and this song carries on that connection, Prog always being born from counterculture. It’s a complete prog reference journey with Tillison’s swirling hammonds and synths, Jonas Reingold’s signature punchy bass, Steve Roberts’ dynamic drums and Luke Machin’s stylistic guitar work. Take yourself on a sisteen minute nostalgic road trip punctuated by the ever so elegant sax and flute of Theo Travis, this is what the band have always been good at, delivering a potent message with lashings of fantastic music to ease it home. The guitar and vocal motif at the end puts a particularly large smile on my face, tipping a nod to the 70’s in the process, The Tangent are back!

Now the album takes a wander over into left-field territory with the jazz-fusion instrumental The Melting Andalusian Skies, a piece of music as laid back as they come, sit back, enjoy the warm, sunny feel and let the ever so smooth sounds flow over you. Luke and Andy trade guitar and synth like the best jazz pros and Theo gives the whole shebang the necessary chuzpah. Luke throws in some Gordon Giltrap guitar and even acid jazz to give a psychedelic overtone, this is music for the hell of it, these guys are having a seriously good time, it’s patently obvious.  Described by the band as an attempt to find the missing link between Porcupine Tree and JamiroquaiA Case Of Misplaced Optimism is more funk than any man should have to handle! This track will get you digging the groove and saying ‘yeah man’ every five seconds, it is seriously infectious piece of music that put a huge grin on my face, yep, the joy is here for everyone to hear.

Rapidly becoming one of my all time favourite songs by the band, The Adulthood Lie is my stand out track on what is becoming a seriously good album. The Tangent do electronic dance music (yes you read that right, EDM!) and it works brilliantly. I know Andy wasn’t sure how the fans would take this homage to Ibiza, Fatboy Slim, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the rest but, to me, it’s a fantastic track. It’s chock full of catchy moments and a seriously infectious vibe that gets you up and dragging your dancing boots out of the cupboard before you even know what you’re doing. You know what, this is what progressive music should be about, you’re hearing a true progression and maturation of The Tangent’s sound and it’s bloody brilliant. As Andy says,

“Our belief is that Progressive Rock music is still a valid and viable musical form in 2018 and will continue to be so. Our band has always sought to take on board things from the present and add them to that magical mix. We don’t claim to be offering the FUTURE. We just claim to be offering one set of possibilities. Ours. Now.”

There’s a repeated vocal line that runs through the song that starts, “When I was young, I fell in love…”, trust me, that will rapidly become a glorious earworm! Andy admitted the band had gone a bit mad on this track but was really glad that they had.

“The whole of Supper’s Off came from a daft thing I said about “Cooking The Books Of Revelation” in a rather boring meeting at college…”

Being a fellow Yorkshireman, Andy has a particular sense of humour, Supper’s Off was a recording made at the time of (Tangent album) ‘Le Sacre Du Travail’. It wasn’t properly recorded until this album but it’s another iteration of The Tangent’s so called Fast Song. GPS Culture, Evening TV, Uphill From Here and Spark In The Aether could be said to be the others. My friend, and Bad Elephant Music boss, David Elliott has called it “an anthem for the modern progressive rock band” and he’s not wrong. A captivating and utterly addictive track with the funkiest keyboard hook and guitar riff going, it’s blasts into your mind at a mind-blowing rate of knots and takes everybody on a fun-fuelled musical roller coaster ride before tipping its hat and firing off into the distance.

Normality is resumed with the ten minute bonus of Excerpt From “Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans”, a little dip into Andy’s Kalman Filter material which is edgy, spaced out and best listened to in the dark with something addictive (legally, obviously!! you know, like Whiskey!) and this brings the heart rate down nicely so you can actually process what you’ve just listened to.

‘Proxy’ is a joyous celebration of music, done in The Tangent’s inimitable style. It’s an album that truly bears repeated listens, I’m sure Andy has left little chestnuts and references in there for people to pick up on. What we’re hearing is a true progression of the band’s sound that, while keeping what has always made them who they are, now resonates even more clearly with the world we live in. Music to make you think and music to lift your soul, what more can you ask for?

Released 16th November 2018

Check out the band’s website for pre-order details

 

ZIO release video for new single X-Ray

ZIO, former Karnataka drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi’s new outfit featuring  Hayley Griffiths and Joe Payne on vocals, have released a stunning new music video for first single ‘X-Ray’, directed and produced by Crystal Spotlight and the single is mixed by Marco Casaluce of MARC&CHEESE

The full length version of the new single will be released on all digital platforms on the 21st October.

ZIO also features Franck Carducci keyboad player Olivier Castan, guitarist Marc Fascia and New Device bassist Liz Hayes. The band made their live debut at France’s Crescendo Festival this year and are working on their debut album.

Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra Live in 2019

Marillion have announced that they will return to the road in the UK and Europe in 2019 with an extended line up of musicians joining the band.

The shows will feature the In Praise of Folly String Quartet plus Sam Morris on French Horn and Emma Halnan on Flute, featured on select numbers throughout the show as on previous occasions. In December 2017, Marillion played a sold-out show at The Royal Albert Hall which was the fastest selling concert of the bands career and featured this same ensemble of musicians who also featured on the UK tour in the spring of 2018. The concert at the Royal Albert hall was hailed by the fans and critics alike as “one of the best concerts in Marillion’s history”.  The recording of the show, ‘All One Tonight’ has since been released on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD and vinyl and topped the charts in 5 countries. Marillion will be playing songs spanning their 14 album-career with Steve Hogarth, as 2019 celebrates 30 years of him joining the band.

Tour Dates are:
November 2019
Fri 01                     Liverpool Philharmonic
Sun 03                   Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Mon 04                 Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 06                 Birmingham Symphony Hall
Thur 07             Portsmouth Guildhall
Sat 09                   Bath The Forum
Sun 10                  Oxford New Theatre
Tue 12                  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Wed 13                Gateshead The Sage
Fri 15                    Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Sat 16                   Cardiff St David’s Hall
Mon 18                London Royal Albert Hall
Tue 19                  London Royal Albert Hall
Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.

Review – Oak – False Memory Archive – by Progradar

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

A poignant quote from the great Tom Petty and one that surely rings true in today’s troubled times. I love the surprise of hearing new music that moves you and takes you to a better place, there truly is nothing better.

Featuring members of both Airbag and the Björn Riis touring bands, Oak is a Norwegian progressive pop/rock band that originally emerged from a folk-rock duo. The four members have a diverse background spanning from classical piano to electronica, prog- and hard-rock, with references to the alternative scene as well as progressive rock – something that has combined to make a distinguished and unique sound. Mixing this with great musical skills and a vision of being accessible to a wide audience resulted in their debut album ‘Lighthouse’ in 2013.

Five years later, they are back with the stunning follow-up ‘False Memory Archive’. A natural continuation from ‘Lighthouse’, to which it has several small nods and references. The album has been meticulously crafted, with more use of electronics and low bass frequencies. It is both darker and groovier than its predecessor, while still sounding familiarly like Oak.

The promo arrived, unassumingly, in my inbox a few weeks ago and it was only because the band’s name triggered some sought of recognition in my mind that I decided to give it an immediate listen.

‘False Memory Archive’ is an incredibly engrossing and memorable listening experience. The opening track We, The Drowned immediately draws you into their dark but satisfying musical world. Simen Valldal Johannessen’s heartfelt vocals drip empathy and pathos and the band’s music just bleeds emotion, I was hooked from the first note.

The album has a feel of the more melancholy side of progressive and alternative music and will inevitably draw comparisons with the likes of Steven Wilson and The Pineapple Thief but these impressive musicians can stand their own ground as can be seen on the wistfully sombre but utterly graceful Clare De Lune. The album is really beginning to strike a chord with me, a wonderfully affectional musical journey that touches your heart an soul.

The darker progressive feel of title track False Memory Archive is countered by the uplifting harmony of the elegant chorus then the sparse, hauntingly pensive Lost Causes just leaves you open mouthed and slack jawed in appreciation with its powerful and yet stark message. It’s an utterly magical piece of music that cements just how good this band truly is.

The delightfully playful classical interlude of Intermezzo is grace and class personified and works like a musical amuse-bouche before the tension is cranked up by the mesmerising dark delights of The Lights, a captivating ten minutes plus of cat and mouse where light and shade intertwine and leave the hairs on the back of your neck rising.

The highs just keep coming, These Are The Stars We’re Aiming For pulsates with energy punctuated by sincere passion and fervor, Transparent Eyes is a plaintive contemplative track that almost rests a comfort blanket over your emotional state and the closing track, Psalm 51, is achingly beautiful, an ethereal joy, a song of longing and of love that brings a tear to your eye and yet joy to your heart.

I have loved music for many years, it has been with me through the highs and the lows  and my life would not be complete without it. My life is now also complete with this incredible album from Oak. Albums like ‘False Memory Archive’ are the reason that music was created in the first place, they bring peace to your soul and joy and love to your heart and the world is a better place for them. I cannot give any higher praise than that.

Released 19th October 2018

Order from bandcamp here (I’ve ordered the vinyl)

 

 

PAUL DRAPER ANNOUNCES ‘ATTACK OF THE GREY LANTERN – LIVE AT THE RITZ’

Paul Draper’s 14-date Spring ’18 tour celebrated the 21st anniversary of one of the most favoured British albums from the late Britpop era – Attack of the Grey Lantern.

Recorded live at The Ritz, Manchester on Thursday 1st March 2018, this album captures Draper’s energetic stage presence, his incredible band and classic Mansun tracks such as “Wide Open Space“, “Taxloss” and “Disgusting“, performed to a fantastic Manchester audience.

Listen to the live version of “Taxloss” :

This 2LP Limited Edition Vinyl* is available for Black Friday 23rd November in your local indie retailer and all good record stores.

*Includes an mp3 download of the album.

A very limited quantity, signed by Paul will be available on his upcoming acoustic tour starting 14th Nov.

Tickets are ON SALE NOW for Paul’s November 2018 Acoustic Tour: http://pauldraperofficial.com/tour-dates/

Performing tracks from his debut solo album Spooky Action, as well as Mansun Official classics and deep cuts. PLUS as yet unheard songs from Paul’s second solo album, due 2019.

November 2018 Acoustic Tour Dates:
Wed 14th – Bath, Moles

Thu 15th – Wolverhampton, Newhampton Arts Centre

Fri 16th – Cambridge, Storey’s Field Centre

Sat 17th – Leicester, The Cookie

Wed 21st – York, The Crescent Community Venue

Thu 22nd – Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree

Fri 23rd – Edinburgh, Pleasance Theatre

Sat 24th  – Stockton-on-Tees, Georgian Theatre